The Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has launched an inquiry into the British government’s Gambling Act white paper review.
Published in April, the long-awaited white paper covered a range of major topics regarding gambling and future regulation in Great Britain.
The APPG-led inquiry, which launched today (14 June), will assess all proposed measures put forward in the white paper. The inquiry will also seek to hold the government to account and ensure reforms are taken forward quickly.
In addition, the inquiry will ensure where commitments have been made to legislate “when parliamentary time allows”, these are pursued as a priority. These include handing greater powers to the Gambling Commission to support enforcement.
The APPG will hold a series of oral evidence sessions as part of the inquiry and also accept evidence or submissions from interested parties. Any feedback must be submitted by 11 July.
The inquiry will seek opinion on optimal stake limits for online slot content and how game design should be modified to prevent harm including opt-out deposit limits.
The APPG will consider how the Statutory Levy should be operated and administered, as well as issues surrounding proposed affordability checks and the proposed parameters.
Individuals will also be invited to give opinion on an optimal system for data sharing, how the ombudsman should be operated and administered and what further steps can be taken to protect children and young people from gambling advertising.
“The APPG will also continue to scrutinise further areas of potential harm,” the APPG said. “These include those not included within the remit of the white paper such as the operation of the National Lottery and the emergence of new forms of gambling.”
White paper proposals
Regarded as the most transformative review of gambling in Great Britain for 18 years, the white paper was finally released in April. The publication signified a landmark upheaval of how gambling will be regulated in an age of smartphones and 24/7 internet access.
While the document outlined much of what the industry expected, it had some unexpected additions. These included the addition of a gambling ombudsman, to give customers one point of contact for industry queries.
Other key topics covered in the white paper included affordability checks. Proposals were for players who lose £1,000 within 24 hours, or £2,000 over a period of 90 days, being subject to detailed checks on affordability. In addition, operators will have to perform “passive” checks on players who have a net loss beyond £125 each month, or £500 per year.
The white paper also proposed a consultation on stake limits and plans to implement a limit of between £2 and £15 per spin. Lower thresholds would be applied to new accounts.
The government also looked at a mandatory statutory levy which, paid by operators to the Gambling Commission, would fund research, education and treatment (RET) for gambling harms. A consultation on design and scope for this will take place in the summer.
The white paper also called for an easing on land-based restrictions, such as allowing casinos to offer sports betting on site. Limits on slot machines in larger casinos could also be eased, at a 5:1 ratio for slots to table games.
In terms of advertising, the Gambling Commission will hold a consultation on new proposed controls for customers. These include the ability to opt-in for online bonuses and other online gambling offers.
In addition, the government said it could give statutory backing to a voluntary agreement currently in place with payment providers, in which illegal gambling sites are blocked. This would mean the Gambling Commission could apply for a court order to force providers to block these sites.
Betting and Gaming APPG closes
Last month, it was confirmed that the parliamentary all-party betting and gaming group would close for the foreseeable future.
Formed in June 2015 as a cross-party group that had no official status within parliament, the group featured members with a shared interest in the gambling industry.
The APPG weighed in on a host of key issues in recent years, but the group will now disband.